Monday, May 18, 2009

Look out America, the Fiats are Coming!

Fiat 500s passing under my window. They might be small but they're feisty.

And there's more where those came from!

You'll love the new model.

Meantime I'm still trying to make quick, spirited sketches (and wishing I had a Cinquecento)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Iris Watercolour & Sketch

Garden Irises

It's been a wonderful year for Irises in our Tuscan garden. They've been popping up in places I've never seen them before. The first year we were here I'd dash out to photograph or sketch each bloom as it appeared. Such is the abundance this year, I've been a bit overwhelmed. I know I should have tried for a big painting but I've always been inhibited by the benchmark set by Van Gogh.

Katherine Tyrrell, (Making a Mark) has put together a wonderful post tracking her inspiration through Hokusai to Van Gogh to produce a beautiful coloured pencil study after Van Gogh.

I was finally forced to attempt a watercolour when Jean gave me a splendid specimen from her garden. I hate picking flowers and cutting their life short but this one had actually fallen over due to the weight of its enormous blooms.

Abandoned Watercolour

I don't often give up entirely on a painting but something about this flower made me put down my brush. Part of the problem was that I didn't pay enough attention to the initial drawing. I cut corners and had no believable structure to guide me. Anyway I gave up and took some photos instead.

Trying to overcome a glum 'can't paint anything' mood, I went 'surfing' the blogs that so often inspire. Casey Klahn (The Colorist) has tracked down a fabulous site featuring the work of Henri Matisse. I started doodling Matisse-style in awe, as always, of the spirited beauty of his line.

So in the end it wasn't Van Gogh or Hokusai who sent me back to the dreaded iris, but Matisse. Armed with an A3 sketchbook and a Tombow brush pen I ignored everything but the spirit of the iris and I was finally happy with the result.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Duck, Egg & Feather in Gouache

Birth Notice? - Gouache on Brown Ingres Pastel Paper 24 x 30cm

Detail gouache painting & lettering

I'm having a love affair with ducks and gouache.

Wondering how it would look with a mat

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Borage Watercolour

Watercolour 6" x 4"

I found a beautiful prickly blue plant on my morning walk and had to ask Jean to identify it. Now I know it's Borage and can be eaten and drunk with great benefits to one's health. This little piece is still happily flowering in a vase on my desk after three days. I'm going to see if I can relocate some to our garden.

Instead of doing so many small paintings in my sketchbooks, I'm now experimenting with postcard size pieces of watercolour paper. The better ones can then be framed, posted, sold or given away without destroying a sketchbook. The bad ones also won't destroy a sketchbook! It's a lovely format. Trouble is I mistook a piece of printmaking paper for HP watercolour paper so it was too absorbant and the watercolour (above) doesn't have it's usual sparkle. What I'd really love is some Arches HP paper which I can't find here.

Since the good weather has arrived, instead of staying in bed with my laptop, I'm now out the door at 7.30am and totally enchanted by these beautiful mornings in the Tuscan countryside.

Poppies in the Olive Groves

La Collegiata

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sketching Weather

View from my desk

Finally we have sketching weather!

Moleskine watercolour sketchbook

Cheap Moleskine copy

These cheap bo0ks are available at the supermarket, and while the paper is the same colour as the Moleskine sketchbook it is very thin and dulls down the watercolour. Its major advantage is that I sketch in it with great freedom because it isn't a 'good' sketchbook.

Both sketches were done en plein air with watercolours, Lamy fountain pen & water brush. I really will attempt something more ambitious soon but at least I'm getting out there at last.
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